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CD vs MP3 Quality.

3995 Views 27 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  samurray
In an OTA thread yesterday, several people brought up this issue. Those posts were deleted since they hijacked an OTA thread.

I'd like to start that "debate" again here. (the people who were discussing digital vs analogue cameras in that thread may do the same in a new thread) ;)

If I recall the gist of what people were saying, they were stating that MP3s were better than CDs because 128 is higher than 44.

I believe people have got bitrate and sampling frequency mixed up...
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I think we should get some of the facts straight first ....

A CD song is as JohnnyG described ..... An Analog to Digial conversion sampled at 44.1Khz with a depth of 16 bits. This is then encoded onto a CD as basically a .WAV file. There is NO compression applied to the data (that is all it really is at this point). If the CD is made from a digital recording, then it will be resampled to the CD standard.

A LOSSLESS encoder will that this data and compress it so that the orginal data can be retrieved WITHOUT any data loss. Usually you will save about 1/2 the space. This is exactly the same way WinZip works. Some examples are APE, WMA, etc

A LOSSY encoder will compress the data but when expanded MAY NOT be the same as the original. Many factors play in when using this type of compression ie bit rate, file size, etc. Examples of these are MP3, MEG-2, JPEG, MPEG-4, WMA, etc. The intelligence of the encoder also plays an inprotant role in this ie the Lame encoder is renowed for it encoding ability.

Once a file gets encodered, downloading the file, copying the file, e-mailing the file will never change the original quality of the recording. Re-encoding may introduce errors on top of errors which may futher reduce the quality. For example, encode a WAV file to 320 VBR MP3 will sound every bit as good as the orginal but be 1/3 the size. Then encode this to 128bit for a music player. This file will not be as good as encoding from WAV to 128 bit. Why?? We are resampling the resampled 320bit which already has errors.

For myself, I use 320 Variable Bit Rate MP3 encoded with the Lame encoder. I cannot tell the difference between it and the orginal on my system. For portable MP3 players, I re-encode to 96 bit from my 320 VBR encoding.
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I was using the WinZip as an example of lossless compression. I was not impling that we could use it on WAV files to save space!

As you have said, usng the proper encoder can save 50% without any loss of the digital signal ie APE, FLAC, WMA, etc

Anyone who wants to transfer their CD collection to MP3 (or whatever) should take one or 2 titles, rip them using various bit rates and sit down and decide which is the best for them. I did that and settled on the 320 VBR using the lame decoder. I think "most" people would be happy with that.
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